It’s not easy for most investors to get excited about potash, a fertilizer — and less so about Eritrea, a north African country which spent years on a United Nations sanctions list.
But times do change and there is a small company poised to benefit from growing global fertilizer demand and the international rehabilitation of Eritrea.
Danakali, an Australia-based miner, has moved to within sight of developing the potential world-class Colluli potash project which sits close to the Red Sea which is Eritrea’s eastern border.
If the location and the past record of a bitter dispute with neighboring Ethiopia wasn’t enough to ring alarm bells there’s trouble on the other side of the Red Sea where a messy civil war is being fought in Yemen.
Despite the multiple negative factors there are a growing number of indications that the Colluli project will be developed and it will become a low-cost, high-profit, producers of potash, an essential fertilizer in some countries which need to boost crop yields.
On the political front the U.N. lifted sanctions on Eritrea two months ago after a dramatic improvement in relations with Ethiopia, opening the way for increased international investment.
Sales Deal Underwrites The Business
On the business front, Danakali has signed a sales agreement with Russian-controlled EuroChem for up to 100% of the potash produced in the first stage of Colluli.
On the financial front, a key step was taken last month when Danakali, which has a 50-50 joint venture covering Colluli with the government of Eritrea, signed a $200 million funding mandate with a syndicate of African-development financial institutions.
The next step is to start construction of the potash project which appears to be far simpler than rival operations in Europe and North America, where potash is extracted in very deep mines.
Near-Surface Ore For Easy Mining
Colluli’s potash is located close to the surface making for easy mining, and close to port facilities on the Red Sea which will provide easy access to fast-growing Asian markets.
Environmental conditions will not be easy for workers at Colluli with the potash located in a region known as the Danakal Depression which is regarded as one of the hottest places on earth.
But, compensating for the location and the difficult history of Eritrea is an ore body containing at least 1.1 billion tonnes of potash, enough for at least 200 years of production.
Interest in Danakali has been limited over the past 12 months as the different parts of the project have been stitched together and uncertainty has spread about global trade during the trade war between China and the U.S.
From around 63c on the Australian stock market in August, Danakali has slipped to 50c, a price which values the stock at $130 million.
Latest evacuation of vulnerable refugees from Libyan detention centres to Niger for onward solutions brings total helped in past year to almost 2,500.
TRIPOLI, Libya – On Thursday, a smiling Abdul Karim was unable to hide his excitement as he clutched his boarding pass, ready to join 131 other refugees on a flight out of Tripoli to Niger’s capital Niamey.
“My life starts today,” said the Somali refugee, his hopes of a better future suddenly reawakened. “I want to study hard and make a difference in the world. I want to be a good member of the community.”
A year after UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, began life-saving evacuations for vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers out of Libya, almost 2,500 people who have been held in detention in Libya have now been evacuated to Niger, Italy and Romania.
In the latest evacuation yesterday, 132 refugees and asylum-seekers, including women and children, were flown from Tripoli to Niger. In Niger, they will be hosted at a UNHCR Emergency Transit Mechanism while longer-term solutions in third countries are sought for them.
Abdul Karim and the other evacuees were previously held in Triq Al Sikka and Abu Salim detention facilities in Libya. Forty-one of those evacuated yesterday were unaccompanied children. Most were detained after being intercepted or rescued at sea during attempted crossings from Libya to Europe.
“Refugees in Libya are faced with a nightmarish scenario. They have fled their homes in search of safety and protection only to end up incarcerated, languishing indefinitely in squalid conditions,” said Roberto Mignone, UNHCR’s Chief of Mission in Libya.
“Refugees in Libya are faced with a nightmarish scenario.”
Despite significant security challenges and restrictions on movement to complete these evacuations, UNHCR has undertaken 23 of evacuations from Libya since November 2017.
Despite ongoing instability, Libya remains a major transit country for people fleeing conflict and instability in other parts of Africa and the Middle East.
Refugees and asylum-seekers, women and children among them, wait to be flown to Niger. © UNHCR/Farah Harwida
When he fled insecurity in his native Somalia more than a year ago, Abdul Karim dreamt of reaching Europe and enrolling in university. But his life soon turned into a waking nightmare when he found himself trapped in Libya, initially in the hands of unscrupulous smugglers and then in a detention centre in the capital Tripoli.
Despite his ordeal, Abdul Karim insisted that leaving Somalia in search of a better life was the only option left to him. “It was the only way to be safe and to eventually help my family,” he explained.
Also on Thursday’s flight was 28-year-old Marharit, a refugee from Eritrea who spent two years in Libya with her three-year-old daughter, in detention and with smugglers. She said her only goal was to find refuge in a safe country where she could raise her daughter in peace.
“Today I am changing my life and that of my daughter. I am very happy.”
report from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 24 Jan 2019 — View Original
UNHCR staff members advocated for the release of 2 Eritrean kids from Kararim detention center near Misrata, in order to reunite them with their mother in Switzerland
By Tarik Argaz in Tripoli, Libya | 24 January 2019
Last March, as they languished in a detention centre in the Libyan city of Misrata, Kedija* and her brother Yonas’s epic attempt to reunite with their mother in Switzerland after eight years of separation had appeared doomed.
Up to that point, the siblings from Eritrea – aged just 15 and 12 – had fled their homeland, survived alone in an Ethiopian refugee camp, been held for ransom by kidnappers, and finally made it aboard a vessel heading across the Mediterranean to Europe, only to be intercepted and returned to Libya.
But thanks to the doggedness of their mother Semira, the intervention of governments and humanitarian agencies, and a large slice of luck, today the children are sitting in Switzerland in their mother’s arms once more.
“I never lost hope of being reunited with my kids again.”
“Despite being separated for more than eight years, I never lost hope of being reunited with my kids again,” said Semira, gripping them tightly as if they might still disappear, with tears of joy and relief running down her smiling face.
For UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, it all began with a phone call to staff in Libya from the International Social Service – a Swiss-based NGO specialized in child protection issues – whom Semira had contacted for help.
Knowing only that the children were being held somewhere in the country, and with just their names and an out of date photo to identify them by, UNHCR staff and their NGO partners in Libya began scouring every detention centre they had access to.
But with an estimated 3,800 refugees and asylum seekers currently being held in dozens of official detention centres across the country, and others falling into the hands of armed groups and human traffickers, the chances of finding them were slim.
When UNHCR Senior Protection Assistant Noor Elshin came across two skinny and pale children in Misrata’s Karareem detention centre, they looked so unlike the happy and healthy faces in the photo that staff had been given that it was a shock to learn that he had indeed found Kedija and Yonas.
“This is literally like finding a needle in a haystack,” Noor said. “Despite having them in front of me, I still couldn’t believe that we’d actually found them.” Shortly afterwards, Semira received the call that she had been praying for – her children had been found.
The family’s odyssey began in 2010, when Semira was forced to flee persecution in Eritrea. Rather than drag her children into the unknown, she took the difficult decision to leave them with their grandparents while she sought a safe refuge for the family.
After five years of relative stability, in 2015 Kedija and Yonas were themselves forced to flee insecurity in Eritrea and cross the border into Ethiopia. Semira lost contact with them for several months while her brother, who was also in Ethiopia, desperately searched for his niece and nephew.
He eventually found them living alone in a refugee camp near the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, and pledged to do all he could to reunite them with their mother, who by now was living in Switzerland.
In mid-2017, the children and their uncle set off on their perilous and uncertain journey to reach Semira. The trio battled fierce temperatures, thirst and hunger as they begged rides on trucks and buses across Ethiopia and Sudan, striving to reach the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
But events took a dark turn at the Sudanese-Libyan border, where the group were violently abducted by smugglers, who found out the children’s mother was living in Switzerland and demanded a ransom in order to free them.
When Semira was unable to meet the criminals’ financial demands, Kedija and Yonas were separated from their uncle before being sold on from one smuggler to another, terrified and more vulnerable than ever.
Then one day, several weeks into their ordeal, the siblings were unexpectedly released and left to wander lost and alone in the vast Libyan wilderness. Miraculously, they were discovered and taken in by a group of fellow Eritreans, who were also planning to take a boat to Europe and promised to bring them along.
When the boat was intercepted and the children returned to Libya and detained, they were able to phone their mother, who by this time was frantic with worry. “I’d spent days and nights praying for them, despite everyone around me losing hope, until the day I heard my daughter’s voice for the first time in several months,” Semira recalled.
Suddenly, eight years of worry and longing fell away.
After UNHCR tracked the children down, the Swiss government agreed to grant them humanitarian visas to join their mother. UNHCR worked with the Libyan and Tunisian authorities to organize the paperwork needed for Kedija and Yonas’ release and transport to Switzerland via Tunisia.
On the morning that UNHCR staff entered the detention centre to take the children on their final journey back to their mother, their story was well known to everyone inside. They left the centre with the joyful singing and chanting of their fellow Eritrean detainees ringing in their ears.
Less than 24 hours later, after an overnight stay in Tunis where the Swiss embassy provided them with their travel documents, Kedija and Yonas touched down in Switzerland where an anxious and excited Semira was waiting for them.
Catching the first sight of her tired and disoriented children in the airport arrivals gate, eight years of worry and longing fell away as she ran to them and buried herself in their ecstatic embraces; safe, happy and reunited at last.
*All names have been changed for protection purposes
This week former Eritrean miners brought a case against Nevsun in the Canadian Supreme Court.
They accuse the company of knowing that they were National Service men and women – who were effectively treated as slaves on the mines. The company denies the allegations.
The Supreme Court has to decide whether the case can be heard in Canada. A ruling is expected in 3 – 6 months.
Meanwhile, you can see all the key documents here.
This is a summary of the case
Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch). Please note that summaries are not provided to the Judges of the Court. They are placed on the Court file and website for information purposes only.
The respondents are Eritrean refugees who sought to bring a representative claim against the appellant, a publicly-held B.C. corporation. They allege that through a chain of subsidiaries, the appellant entered into a commercial venture with Eritrea for the development of a gold, copper and zinc mine in Eritrea. The appellant allegedly engaged the Eritrean military and military controlled corporations and was complicit in the use of forced labour at the mine, conscripted under Eritrea’s National Service Program. The respondents claim to have fallen victim to forced labour, slavery, torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment and crimes against humanity. They bring claims of private law torts as well as breaches of peremptory principles of international law for which they seek damages at customary international law. The appellant denied that the respondents were subjected to forced labour or mistreatment and argued that the military and its personnel were not subject to the control, direction or supervision of the appellant or of the mining company in which the appellant has a 60% indirect interest.
The Supreme Court of British Columbia granted the appellant’s motion to deny the proceeding status as a common law representative action but dismissed the appellant’s motions to stay, dismiss or strike aspects of the respondents’ claims on the basis that either Eritrea is the forum conveniens, or that the claims are precluded by or have no reasonable chance of success due to the act of state doctrine or the inapplicability of customary international law. The Court also held that certain secondary evidence filed by the respondents was admissible for the limited purpose of providing social and historical facts for context. The Court of Appeal for British Columbia dismissed the appellant’s appeal.
Source: UNICEF. Photos added.
Eritrea Humanitarian Situation Report: January-December 2018
from UN Children’s Fund
- The year under review was a turning point for Eritrea. In July 2018, Ethiopia and Eritrea signed the historic Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship, effectively ending two decades of political stalemate between the two countries, and in November 2018, the United Nations Security Council lifted the targeted sanctions imposed on Eritrea since 2009.
- In 2018, UNICEF supported the Government of the State of Eritrea (GoSE) to reach over 46,700 acutely malnourished children under five, treating over 13,430 children for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and more than 33,290 children for moderate acute malnutrition (MAM).
- In total, 131,360 children were immunized against vaccinepreventable diseases including measles, and more than 32,100 children under five received lifesaving treatments through improved services for Community based Integrated Management of Child Illnesses (C-IMCI).
- UNICEF supported advocacy and behavioural change activities, enabling more than 67,000 people to adopt appropriate hygiene practices.
- More than 6,780 overaged children from drought-prone nomadic and semi-nomadic communities have enrolled in schools through the Complementary Elementary Education (CEE) programme.
- More than 97,800 children were reached with Mine Risk Education (MRE) and other critical protection services.
SITUATION IN NUMBERS
632,450 Total people to be reached in 2018 (HAC 2018)
542,000 Total children to be reached in 2018 (HAC 2018)
UNICEF Appeal 2018 US$ 14 million
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
Eritrea is characterised by harsh climatic conditions, including cyclical drought, which affects groundwater resources, and flooding during rainy seasons. These events exacerbate the vulnerability of communities, making it difficult for families to fully recover from the effects of one emergency before being affected by another. In recent years, the country’s climatic conditions tested the coping capacities of the population, of which 80 per cent iare dependent on subsistence agriculture.
According to data from the Eritrea Population and Health Survey (EPHS) 2010 data (the latest available), half of all children under five were stunted, and children are affected by sporadic outbreaks of diarrhoea and measles. The risk of landmines and explosive remnants of war continues to affect border communities, particularly children. Approximately 300,000 children are out of school, with most of out-of-school children (OOSC) hailing from nomadic communities, vulnerable to natural disasters. Domestic food production is estimated to meet only between 60 to 70 per cent of the population’s needs. Eritrea generally receives low rainfall with annual rainfall in the highlands and lowlands between 200–700 mm, 700–1100 mm in sub humid zones, and less than 200 mm in the semi–desert areas.
It is expected that a new EPHS will be conducted in early 2019 and will provide updated figures. Until then, UNICEF and GoSE base their calculations on EPHS 2010 data, which revealed up to 23,430 children under five were at risk of SAM. According to Ministry of Education (MoE) 2018, there are around 300,000 OOSC in Eritrea; of whom 81 per cent are of preprimary school age, 29 per cent are of primary school age, and 41 per cent are of lower secondary school age. Many of these children are from nomadic and semi-nomadic drought-prone zobas of Anseba, Gash Barka, Northern Red Sea and the Southern Red Sea. UNICEF’s support to the national education response focuses on community involvement in setting up learning spaces, building capacity of teachers recruited from the local communities, and enrolling OOSC from nomadic communities.
In July 2018, Ethiopia and Eritrea signed the historic Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship, effectively ending two decades of a political stalemate between the neighbours, and in November 2018, the United Nations Security Council lifted the targeted sanctions imposed on Eritrea since 2009.
Sudanese soldiers cheer as they hold up their guns and a national flag during President Omar al-Bashir's visit to Sudan's main petroleum centre of Heglig on April 23, 2012 where Sudan's army says more than 1,000 Southern soldiers died in battle. Bashir said there will be no more talks with South Sudan, as fresh Sudanese air raids dashed hopes for an end to weeks of fighting. AFP PHOTO/ASHRAF SHAZLY (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)
JANUARY 23, 2019 / 7:32 PM
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on
Wednesday that private Russian companies were training the army in
Sudan, confirming for the first time their presence in a country
shaken by protests against its president, a close Russian ally.
Demonstrators have been on the streets near-daily since Dec. 19,
initially to protest against an economic crisis then to call for an
end to the 30-year rule of President Omar al-Bashir.
“According to our information, representatives of Russian private
security companies, who have nothing to do with Russian state bodies,
really do operate in Sudan,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the
Russian Foreign Ministry, told reporters.
Zakharova said she was responding to what she called an irresponsible
story in the British press which she said had falsely alleged that
Russian mercenaries were helping the Sudanese authorities quell the
“Their task (of the private security firms) is limited to training
staff for the military and law enforcement agencies of the Republic of
Sudan,” she said.
Official statistics from the Russian Federal Security Service
available online show a surge in the number of the Russian citizens
who departed for Sudan in late 2017.
Two hundred Russians traveled to Sudan in the fourth quarter of 2017,
according to the data. Prior to that, the highest number of Russians
heading to the African country was 76 in any given quarter since 2013,
the same data showed.
Moscow has been cagey about its activities in Syria, where up to
several thousand private Russian military contractors secretly helped
President Bashar al-Assad regain control of Syrian territory.
Russian officials denied the contractors operated in Syria at the
Russian state’s behest despite them being based at a military facility
Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Andrew Osborn
Today the question of whether it will be possible to bring a case against Nevsun for allegedly using ‘slave labour’ at its Bisha mine in Eritrea will be heard by the Canadian Supreme Court.
This is a technical issue – can it be heard in Canada?
This note explains the issues.
This is the conclusion, which is interesting
The Supreme Court’s decision could very well open the door to a new customary international law action in Canada. If the Court denies Nevsun’s appeal and upholds the lower courts’ decision, it affords the Plaintiffs the opportunity to prove the legal basis for their customary international law claim. Proving this claim will not be easy but, if the Plaintiffs succeed, Canadian courts will, for the first time, provide judicial remedies for victims of a corporation’s customary international law violations.
Almost 1,000 returned to Libya since the beginning of this year
Situation update: Migrants and refugees returned to Libya now in overcrowded detention centres
Over the past two weeks, MSF teams in Libya have observed a sharp increase in the number of people held in detention centres in Misrata and Khoms. The number has grown from 650 at the beginning of the year to 930 today. This increase comes as vulnerable refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers have been intercepted or rescued at sea and brought back to Libya in violation of international law. Last week, 117 people drowned in a separate incident in the Mediterranean.
European authorities are failing to provide lifesaving search and rescue capacity in the Central Mediterranean. Instead, the UK and European governments are directly supporting forced returns to dire conditions in Libyan detention.
“It is beyond cynicism that the EU and its Member States continue to implement policies based on intercepting and forcibly returning vulnerable people to detention in Libya, while also continuing to deliberately obstruct life-saving search and rescue vessels which are desperately needed in the Central Mediterranean,” said Sam Turner, MSF Head of Mission for activities in Tripoli and Mediterranean search and rescue operations.
Libya is not a safe place to return refugees and migrants. The levels of violence and exploitation that they are exposed to while in the country are well documented. “People are being returned to the country they try to flee. They are desperate. They need to be assisted and protected, not sent back into a cycle of detention,” said Julien Raickman, MSF Head of Mission for activities in Misrata, Khoms and Bani Walid.
250 people returned to Libya this week
On Monday, 106 people disembarked in Khoms from a commercial ship. It is feared that at least six people reportedly drowned while the group was at sea.
“Upon disembarkation, several people were in need of urgent medical care. MSF intervened to provide medical assistance,” said Julien Raickman. MSF organised 10 medical referrals to a nearby hospital. A 15 year old boy died later at the hospital.
Yesterday, another group of 144 people also rescued by a merchant ship were disembarked in Misrata.
Indefinite detention in Libya
Among the 250 people who disembarked in Misrata and Khoms, there are women, some of whom are pregnant, babies and young children under the age of seven. They were transferred to detention centres in the area. Among the people recently disembarked, there are cases of malnutrition, hypothermia, and severe diarrhoea.
Some of those now in detention centres report that before trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, they had been held captive by traffickers for weeks, sometimes months, and were deprived of food and systematically abused and tortured.
Those detained have virtually no access to open air space and little access to clean water. The food available is totally inadequate to meet the nutritional needs of people with serious medical conditions, children and pregnant women. In one detention centre in the capital, MSF medical teams have observed signs of unhealthy weight loss among detainees due to an insufficient food supply. Furthermore, nearly all of the detention centres are poorly insulated against the winter weather, resulting in increased illnesses associated with prolonged cold weather exposure.
Clashes in Tripoli put lives in danger
Meanwhile, recent fighting in southern Tripoli has left 14 dead and 58 wounded according to WHO representatives in Libya. Civilians have at times been caught in the conflict zone, and it has impacted the conditions for detained men, women, and children. Last week, clashes occurred near the Qasr Bin Gashir detention centre where some 228 refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers are being arbitrarily held.
Power to the centre’s borehole pump was lost and detainees were left without access to clean water until MSF was able to deliver an emergency provision of water. MSF medical teams have visited the centre twice over the past 48 hours to conduct consultations and provide medication for tuberculosis patients.
Libya should not be considered a place of safety. More must be done to help people trapped in detention centres to find a safe and dignified way out.
MSF Press Officer
UNHCR continues to receive an influx of new arrivals in East Sudan, largely from Eritrea. New arrivals are received and assisted by the Sudanese Commission for Refugees (COR) at the border where they are temporarily hosted in reception centres. Within 1-2 weeks they are transported to Shagarab camps where they undergo screening, a reception process, registration, and Refugee Status Determination while receiving life-saving services and shelter. Recognized refugees receive COR ID cards.